America’s first openly gay Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy has been unwavering in expressing who he is. But since opening up about his sexuality, he has also faced an onslaught of hateful comments online.
So when Kenworthy took to Twitter on Tuesday to show his fans what kind of YouTube comments he faces as an openly gay man, users started calling for the video streaming platform to do something to fix the problem.
Them: It’s 2018 nobody cares that you’re gay. Homophobia doesn’t exist anymore. Get over yourself.
My YouTube notifications: pic.twitter.com/moASu15TR4
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 27, 2018
YouTube responded via Twitter, saying that “We’re actively working to fix this so you won’t see or be notified of abusive comments and exploring more ways to protect people from abusive comments overall.”
This is unacceptable, we’re so sorry these comments and notifications came through to you. We’re actively working to fix this so you won’t see or be notified of abusive comments and exploring more ways to protect people from abusive comments overall.
— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) February 28, 2018
Twitter users were immediately critical of the platform’s response, saying that the problem wasn’t that Kenworthy was being notified of the hateful comments, but that the comments shouldn’t have been allowed on the platform in the first place.
You could fix it in a cold second, but banning vile commentators would reduce views. One can only conclude you care more about revenues than anything else. Spare us the sanctimony.
— Gavin Scott (@GavScott) February 28, 2018
Does hiding the problem FIX the problem though???
— Thomas Bonneville (@TJBonneville) February 28, 2018
@TeamYouTube Try suspending the accounts of the people who post them. Weird that you don’t mention that, but hiding the comments seems like a better solution to you.
— Joshua Roberts (@joshtweetsthat) February 28, 2018
Kenworthy took the opportunity to thank YouTube for responding, but added that their focus should be on filtering hateful words out of comments in general, not just notifications. “I’m confident enough to brush it off but a younger me would have had a harder time,” he said.
Thank you YouTube! Maybe consider filtering out keywords and phrases like “faggot” and “kill yourself” so that they just never show up in anyone’s comments? I’m confident enough to brush it off but a younger me would have had a harder time. https://t.co/9Iugwoev1q
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 28, 2018
The skier did not receive a medal at the Olympics, finishing 12th in the final round of the games’ freestyle skiing event.